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Time for Peace in Kashmir

By Mansoor Ijaz

India's recent elections have ushered in a historic opportunity to address the issue of Kashmir. Over 417 million voters turned out to give the world's most populous democracy its most stable government ever. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, the affable economist-turned-politician, should now turn Congress's election mandate into an impetus for making unprecedented decisions on national security. Kashmir should be at the top of the priority list.

Some would argue that the landslide election results mean India doesn't need to make peace with Pakistan over Kashmir. I argue the opposite. India's political maturity and growing economic power give it maneuvering room not available to Pakistan, a country besieged by Islamist insurgency, shattered confidence in institutions and a failed economy.

India defeated Pakistan twice in two wars. Pakistanis have watched India rise to regional superpower status economically, politically and militarily. In many ways, India's success fostered Pakistan's radicalization. Rather than confront its self-created demons at home, Pakistan first blusters and then begs the world to save it.

Historically, the moments at which peace was most possible between these nuclear-armed neighbors were when hawkish political and military leaders with equally pragmatic instincts were able to see the mutual benefit in making peace without compromising security. Such was the case when Atal Behari Vajpayee, then India's prime minister from the rightist Bharatiya Janata Party, reached across Kashmir's line of control in 2000 and accepted a general ceasefire by Pakistani-backed militants there. A year later, he and Gen. Pervez Musharraf (who had sanctioned the militants' 2000 offer of ceasing hostilities) nearly reached accord on a final framework for settling the Kashmir dispute by including Kashmiris as partners for peace and agreeing a blueprint to transform the current line of control into an international border.

The leaders may be different today. But the conditions for making peace are similar. In India, the task falls to the newly mandated Mr. Singh, whose calibrated approach prevented hyperbolic reactions against Pakistan in the aftermath of Mumbai. His party won 20 of 25 seats in the state of Rajasthan that shares the longest border with Pakistan. And it won 5 out of the 6 seats contested in Kashmir. He is therefore strong enough politically in key border states to take the risk.

In Pakistan, the task falls to an embattled president whose dismal 19% national approval ratings and penchant for risk-taking make him an ideal candidate for New Delhi to reach out to as his political fortunes spiral downward. Asif Ali Zardari fundamentally does not see India as an existential threat. And his commercial approach to political relationships allows him to see above his army's historical strategy of promoting Islamist insurgency as a foreign policy tool to neutralize India's military superiority in favor of the greater economic good.

Offering Mr. Zardari a seat at the peace table also stabilizes Pakistan's political situation. Just last week, Pakistan's Supreme Court overturned a ban on the right of Mr. Zardari's key political opponent, Nawaz Sharif, to contest national elections. Given Pakistan's history, it is nearly certain Mr. Sharif will not wait until 2013 when those elections are scheduled to seize power from Mr. Zardari. A foreign policy triumph of historical consequence could help Pakistan get through one election cycle with the same government intact - a critical factor for rebuilding its political institutions.

Mr. Singh and Mr. Zardari should call for a peace summit this summer. The two leaders should seek a framework for resolving Kashmir by empowering its people economically and removing terror from their midst by withdrawing Indian security forces and Muslim militants in stages to build confidence on both sides. Mr. Singh's election mandate is largely the result of five years of unprecedented economic prosperity, during which India grew at an annual rate of 8.5%, raising waters for all Indian boats. That economic windfall should make its way to Kashmir's embattled residents.

India and Pakistan should agree to then remove forces from other parts of their joint border (in the Punjab, for example) in order to allow economic trade flows to begin in earnest. India should offer Pakistan major trade partnerships, even creating mini-economic free zones that Mr. Singh is renowned for promoting in which specific products that benefit both countries could be traded.

For its part, as a show of good faith, Pakistan should close the Mumbai wound by sending the Lashkar-e-Taiba terrorists to stand trial in New Delhi. Gen. Kayani and Gen. Pasha should propose credible paradigms for sharing intelligence and conducting regularly planned joint border patrol and military exercises to their Indian counterparts. Recent reports of intelligence sharing with U.S. mediation are encouraging - but much more can and should be done.

Precedence for such cooperation exists. Gen. Eshan ul-Haq, then intelligence chief of Pakistan, and Chander D. Sahay, then India's intelligence director and an architect of the 2000 ceasefire, shared vital intelligence that averted an assassination attempt on Gen. Musharraf in December 2003; this important link should be revitalized.

Even cooperation on sensitive nuclear security matters should begin between the two countries, neither of which is a signatory to global non-proliferation or fissile material control treaties. The U.S. Department of Energy could, for example, host joint conferences in the United States with each country's nuclear regulatory commission to improve coordination on nuclear security matters.

Most of all, India must change its mindset about Kashmir from militaristic control over a cowering people to economic empowerment that motivates them to rise up and determine their own futures. India must make the Kashmiris -- all Kashmiris -- partners for peace. Self-determination is the key platform on which Pakistan has always summoned its national dignity in support of the Kashmiri cause. No matter what that decision by Kashmiris turns out to be (and it would likely be to stay with India) and no matter how long it takes them to get there, self-determination is the skirt behind which Pakistan's army - and its people - could withdraw in dignity and with honor. This was the essence of the plan in 2000 that nearly succeeded.

India's election results give it the political strength to offer such a plan. Pakistan's myriad problems demand that it accept any reasonable offer at the table. The moment to secure durable peace in Kashmir is now.

Mansoor Ijaz, an American of Pakistani origin, jointly authored the blueprint for a ceasefire of hostilities between Indian security forces and Muslim militants in Kashmir in July and August 2000.

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Comments (19)

clearthinking1 Author Profile Page:

I hate to stereotype, but it's too easy and tempting...

Mansoor Ijaz writes "Time for Peace in Kashmir".

This is the typical Pakistani Muslim approach. When defeated and weak, it's "time for peace." When even slightly empowered (nuclear weapons in the 1980's), it's time for violence. Pakistan has attacked India 4 times, supported Sikh terrorism, and initiated and supported Islamic terrorism in Kashmir and throughout India for decades. Now Pakistan is bankrupt economically and morally. More importantly, the world has left Pakistan and it's precolonial attitude behind, and Pakistan's benefactors and puppeteers(British and American masters) are economically and militarily weakened. So, NOW Mansoor Ijaz thinks it's time for peace.

My friend, It is always the time for peace - a concept not entirely clear to Pakistanis as shown by their history. Truly civilized cultures with integrity and strength have been working towards peace. Indians have shown this integrity and strength after defeating Pakistanis in war 4 times as shown by the liberation of Bangladesh, Simla agreement, and Vajpayee's bus trip after Kargil. The violent and primitive culture in Pakistan (based on a tribal, nomadic Arabic culture of the Koran) has interpreted these magnamimous acts as a sign of weakness - since they would never behave this way if they had the upper hand. Read the Koran Chapter 9, verse 5: "Then, when the sacred months have passed, slay the nonbelievers wherever ye find them, and take them (captive), and besiege them, and prepare for them each ambush."

Yes! Pakistanis, it is time for peace. It always is, always has been, and always will be. The question is: what will YOU do? Start following civilized humanity peacefully into the future or continue following the Koran to the violent past?

simplesimon33 Author Profile Page:

By putting onus of peace on India’s premier Manmohan Singh, Mr. Ijaz is implying that it is India that is responsible for current imbroglio in Kashmir when nothing can be further from the truth. While Christian Western world including US consider Muslims to be their REAL brothers while Hindus to be just other humans (Christians and Muslims belonging to the same Book unlike Hindus) and hence support Pakistan’s bogus claim on Kashmir, it is Pakistan that is solely responsible for current violence in Kashmir that is resulting from terrorists infiltrating from Pakistan with the aid of Pakistani Army. Now docile Sonia-Singh government has allowed Pakistan to hijack the Kashmir issue, it is highly doubtful that it can deliver Kashmir to Pakistan regardless of what madam secretary Clinton has promised to Pakistan.

bhatyounes Author Profile Page:

Though there is involvement of both india and pakistan vis-a-vis kashmir problem is conserned and it is also worrisome for both the countries, as kashmir has the great geostrategic importance.But, one should not forget the fact that kashmir has its own identity and history which infact is independent of both india and pakistan.Kashmir problem has no relation with the partition of india and also there is no relevence of the argument that kashmir problem is actually a religous in nature.It is a right of the people of kashmir to decide their future, which infact was also promised by the first prime minister of india,pt.jawaharlal nehru, but unfortunately that has never been fulfilled.

shalshah Author Profile Page:

Actually, since Pakistan was created for Muslims... All Muslim Kashmiris should leave the Valley and go to Pakistan. Muslims do not belong in Hindu India. GET OUT!!! Separate but equal.. Thousands of Hindus left their lands in Pakistan... Now it's time to return the favor. Unfortunately, India allowed Muslims to live in the country. As a result, there's nothing but animosity towards to the Hindu majority. You asked for the country circa 1947.... now that you've got it.... GET OUT!!!

nirmaltata1 Author Profile Page:

There was a suggestion for you. As it is deleted so India is likely to be deleted for peace. No other alternative

btao38 Author Profile Page:

This article is about peace gentlemen and ladies, not war.

Any suggestion for PEACE!! Eh! Nirmaltat1?

kenil Author Profile Page:

Most people made comments here are either ignorant or ignoring the history of Kashmir. Especially NIRMALTATA1, please take a note: the root of the problem in Kashmir is Islamic expansionism. Kashmir and India was a prosperous and land of culture for thousands of years. The fanatic invaders destroyed all the indigenous cultures wherever they went, including large part of India. To these fanatics, Kashmir, or for that matter, India is a dar-ul-harb. "Abode of War" A land ruled by infidels that might, through war, become the "Abode of Islam," dar-ul-Islam. Please read your own history written by Islamic historians. 21st century calls for abandonment of these ideologies and come to terms with reality that we do not live in the medieval era any more, Muslims of all countries are fade up with these fanatics. Soon, the leaders of these forces will be abandoned by the majority of our Muslim population and will have to bring peace in this world. I support the idea of Mansoor Ijaz - great article indeed.

nirmaltata1 Author Profile Page:

India was a Muslim land that was grabbed by the British benyias and given to Hindus in the same way as Israel was formed in an Arab land. Both are curses to the civilization. Since then the Hindus killed millions of Muslims in India and /or forced to them to Pakistan and occupied their homes and properties in India. At the fall of British Empire, America took the role of the beniyas and formed the evil triangle comprising Israel, India and America; the top United Muslim torturing countries of the world. The evil triangle formed by India Israel and America denied the existence of Muslims throughout the world. As a part of their evil desire, India grabbed Decan, Hyderabad, Junagor, Manvador and many other Muslim states (about 300 out of 600 sovereign British Indian states) since 1947. They could not tolerate the separate existence of Pakistan as a sovereign Muslim state. So in 1965, they tried to grab Pakistan but failed to do so because of East Pakistan soldiers punished them vigorously. Then they made their agents in Pakistan Bhutto and Mujib on the two sides and successfully divided the country in 1971. The question of Kashmir was vanished with that war because Pakistan did not exist any more as such. The then USSR helped India in the UN to their evil desire to make joy bangla in 1971. Now joy bangla is ruled by India under their awami agents. This evil triangle made a cue in BDR headquarter to demolish both BDR and army and free the border to BSF. So, at this moment, the liberty of Kashmir is nothing but a dream. While the evil triangle is trying to new create Christian and Jews lands throughout the world and demolishing the Muslim courtiers such as Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Palestine, Lebanon etc. it is astonishing that some people are talking about Kashmir. I tell you to talk also about Hyderabad, Decan, Bihar, Chechnya, Arakan, Spain, and other grabbed lands of the world, so that the Muslims can survive. Thanks

moinansari Author Profile Page:

Mansoor Ijaz is the 5th column. His eulogy of India confirms the vacuuity of his ideas, and the bankruptcy of his integrity. He makes up facs as he goes. His idea of "peace" is to let India gobble up a Muslim majority area of South Asia using a fake "article of accession" which Delhi is now lost--as if it ever existed.


Half the Indian army subjugates the Kashmiris who want freedom. Accepting the LOC as the de facto border is a non-starter. If India wants peace, and it doesn't, then it will have to withdraw back to the Chenab river and stop interfering in Paksitani affairs.

Editor Rupee News

farjamhaider Author Profile Page:

There is only one solution of Kashmir issue.
India & Pakistan should get out of Kashmir & Kashmiries be allowed to decide their own destny.
The idea that Pakistan should break up and Pashtunistan be created by any body is more dangerous for India than Pakistan. The Muslims who ruled over India mostly came from Pashtune origin. Do any one think an independent (Pakistan)punjab will join India? In this hypothetical situation most probably Punjab, Sindh & Baluchistan will be part of Pashtunistan. Could you imagin Pashtunistan having 100+ nukes. Pashtune's are more sensitive to the Kashmiries
issue. What if Pashtunistan will move forward with a pre emptive nuclear strike against India.
Therefore the only good thing for India & Pakistan is to allow Kashmiries decide their own future.

cybersurg Author Profile Page:

The idea of handing over the Mumbai terror crowd to India in exchange for concessions on Kashmir is disingenuous.

This is like adding injury to insult and then making amends for the injury (of Mumbai) and begging to be excused of the earlier insult (Kashmir). I am reminded of a Mad magazine feature in which Pres Roosevelt apologises to emperor Hirohito because exploding ships in Pearl Harbor caused earaches and headaches for Japanese pilots.

Why do Pakis even think of such harebrained schemes? Perhaps because there are gullible people to swallow them. It appears as though the US was created to listen and respond to Pakistani beggathons.

The only saving grace of this article is that it is hilarious.

Optimistic3 Author Profile Page:

Hay you Indians & Pakistanis...
Hay you who are talking about wars, wins and defeats.....
Hay you who are talking about economic growth of their countries....
Hay you who are talking about Armies, guns and weapons...
Hay you who are talking about politics, democracy...
Hay you who are talking about peace and tranquility...
Hay you who are talking about regional divides....

For the sake of humanity please leave us, please leave kashmiris... Please listen to kashmiris. we are also human beings why are we sandwiched in between. What is happening in Kashmir nowadays..please have a look. we have a right to live.. right to live with dignity, with honor.

Hay you who are calling themselves largest democracy.. why don't you behave like democratic in kashmir. why is issue unresolved for last 60 years in this largest democracy.....if kashmir is part of this largest democracy then why now & then Kashmiris are abused, thrashed, murdered, raped ....

Hay you who are talking about humanity...
Is mere thrashing a protester in Australia by police more inhuman and barbaric than piercing a bullet or teargas shell into the head of a protester in kashmir.

Please not for the sake of your countries, GDP, victory in wars but for the sake of humanity....
..Leave us the kashmiris....

IndianPatriot Author Profile Page:

Pakistan keeps asking for demilitarilaztion in Kashmir. Why? So that more terrorists can infiltrate our borders? The presence of our troops is making things difficult for those militants. It is like we have show Gandhigiri towards bomb-wielding terrorists -- it makes no sense.

Pakistan blames India for terrorists. It needs to do a inner re-thinking to realize that it is their manipulativeness that has bit back at them today. Today, it is facing a terror timebomb in its own country.

Mr. Kashmir Khan says in his comments "India never defeated Pakistan. They are kafirs. How can they defeat us, the true muslims? Isn't one of us equal to ten of them?" == What TRUE muslim are u talking about? Those who support persons killing innocents?? U guys are driven by politics and using the garb of Islam to shield your wrong doings. That way, you have only caused disgrace to your religion.

Tim34 Author Profile Page:

To the extent that Mr Ijaz has addressed different constituents of India, Pakistan and Afghanistan in constructive way, such commentary is to be welcomed.

In particular, his suggestion that Pakistan turn over the Pakistani plotters of Mumbai attacks to India should be applauded. This would truly mark a decisive break from previous Pakistani support of terrorist organizations such as LeT and JeM.

In fact, if individuals such as Hamid Gul (former ISI official) and Dawood Ibrahim (mafia leader responsible for earlier Mumbai bombings), who have also been associated with earlier terrorism, are also brought to justice then India and Pakistan could well live in peace and harmony.

cybersurg Author Profile Page:

Ijaz is saying to India - "You are strong, therefore India must save Pakistan's honor and dignity by throwing some Kashmir scraps"

Pakistanis need to understand that after fighting for 60 plus years ant not winning, handing even a minor victory to Pakistan would mean agreeing to some other dispute that Pakistan could raise for another 60 years.

And please cease that parsimonious claptrap about "militaristic control over a cowering people". If it exists it won't stop with more Pakistani whining. Indians have to live with a nuclear threat from Pakistan and any suffering and misery they see in Pakistan is a cause for celebration.

optimist11 Author Profile Page:

This piece makes no sense. Are you seriously arguing that India should sit at the bargaining table with Pakistan, the nation that exports state-sponsored terrorists and proliferates nuclear weapons? You want more Pakistani influence in Kashmir so they can create another FATA or NWFP? So they can cede more land to the Taliban? What has Pakistan done exactly in the last two decades that makes you feel comfortable negotiating with them? What has Pakistan done to prove they are not the epicenter of terrorism? They just released LeT's leader today... Pakistan negotiates with the world with a gun to its head. India has dealt with this since its birth, and is not falling for the trap.

mohandjk Author Profile Page:

I guess we've got extremists from both sides here (commenting on previous comments). I think Mr. Ijaz's piece makes a tonne of sense. A Pakistan that fails or comes close to failing as a state would be a total disaster for India. The history of the Indian subcontinent is that the collapse of any significant central power leads to decades of misery, and that such collapses tend to spread across political boundaries.

India and Pakistan need to move to the next phase of their lives. They're stuck in second gear. Even if Pakistan showed some evident strictness in dealing with terror groups inside Pakistan itself (releasing Hafiz Syed was a very bad thing - appeal it and get him back in jail), it would move things substantially in a positive direction. India should give assurances that the border will remain cool on the eastern front for Pakistan, so that Pakistan's army can concentrate on dealing with the extremely dangerous common threat that has emerged.

They should form intelligence linkages immediately. There is almost certain to be a strike in India as militants try to relieve the pressure on themselves by provoking an Indo-Pak confrontation. Start laying the groundwork today to be able to defray those tensions when they arise.

HonestMan Author Profile Page:

This article is just another shot in the dark. It proves nothing worth to make note of. Another writer pleaing to the world that Pak is unstable because of India. This article is a total non-sense just like Pak.

sumeetchhibber Author Profile Page:

The author writes, "For its part, as a show of good faith, Pakistan should close the Mumbai wound by sending the Lashkar-e-Taiba terrorists to stand trial in New Delhi."

Today's Washington Post story is headlined, "Pakistani Court Orders Release of Militant Leader". A Pakistani court on Tuesday ordered the immediate release of the founder of a banned militant group that is believed to be behind last year's terrorist attacks in Mumbai, a decision likely to heighten tensions with rival India.

One can draw the logical conclusion about Pakistan's seriousness in dealing with this issue.

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